When You Can’t Say Goodbye

Grief on it’s own is an emotional roller coaster. Add on top of that a global pandemic with COVID-19 / Coronavirus and that ride becomes even more wild.

Add on top of that the reality that someone you love died during this pandemic, and it’s all you can do to hang on.

You’re not alone. Although having to isolate during such a devastating loss can definitely feel like it.

My heart goes out to all who are struggling with death of a loved one during this time. Not being able to see, or hug, or share those precious last moments with them because of COVID-19 is absolutely heartbreaking.


And then on top of the grief you may also be struggling with guilt – for not saying what you wanted to say before they passed. For the words you did leave them with the last time you saw them. For knowing they died alone even though that was obviously way beyond your control.

Know that whatever you’re feeling is normal and natural. There is no ‘right’ way to feel, especially now when nothing is normal.

And then there’s the funeral. The ritual most of us participate in to say goodbye and gather in community for healing. This has also been taken away and leaves us with another layer of loss.

This is an extraordinary amount of loss to carry.

This inability to say goodbye in person is an unfamiliar layer of loss many of us are dealing with during this global pandemic. But there are ways you can connect and help to heal your broken heart.

Go virtual

As we’re all learning during isolation, we can be creative and innovative in the ways we can connect. Schedule a video call with your loved ones on Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype or whatever platform you’re all most comfortable with. Being able to see and hear each other will do wonders for your soul and keep you from feeling isolated. Share stories, tears, laughter, and memories together and keep meeting up together for as long as you need it. There is no timeline here. Or if video calls aren’t your thing, then connect on the phone. The important thing here is to reach out because there’s some healing that can only happen with others.

Go within

Take this time to also connect with yourself by ‘diving inwards’ so you can nourish yourself from the inside out. Light a candle in memory of your loved one to connect energetically with them, and then write a letter to them. Express everything you’re feeling, the whole wide range of emotions that are coming up for you. Know that it might range from angry, bitter, sad, disappointed, hurt, and confused, to feeling relieved, thankful, sensitive, peaceful, hopeful, and full of love. The important thing is you give yourself time and space to honour whatever emotions are coming out for you and letter writing is one of my favourites.

You can also breathe these emotions through the body. Close your eyes and connect with the breath, then the emotion. See where it shows up in your body when you think of it. Perhaps there’s a heaviness in your heart or a tightness in your chest. Maybe a pit in your stomach or a emptiness in your pelvis. Whatever it is, see it, honour it, and use the power of the breath to gently sweep it up and out of the body on the exhale. See it dissipate in front of your eyes like a fog that’s lifting. Rinse and repeat the breath and visualization until you feel a sense of clearing.

You can also set an altar in your home to honour them. Take inspiration from the Mexican tradition of Dias De Muertos and build a beautiful offrenda (altar) and fill it with flowers (use their favourite flowers if you can get them) food and drink (such as their favourite snacks), pictures of them, and of course, candles to offer some light.

You could also cook their favourite meal, watch their favourite movie, sing a song that reminds you of them, or donate to their favourite charity in their name. There’s no wrong way to express your love, and loss, so do whatever feels best to you.

Take it wider

Plan an online memorial event to bring together those beyond your immediate circle who you might have normally seen at the funeral. This will provide an opportunity for everyone to gather together to support you, express their collective grief, and say goodbye. The easiest way would be to set up a Facebook Group and invite everyone to join at a specific time. Encourage everyone to light a candle at their home so they can energetically connect as well. Then at that time, people can login to the Facebook group and contribute photos and share memories that can later be used at an in-person memorial service. You can keep this group open for as long as you like and people can continue to share and show their support.

If you, or someone you love, is struggling with a loss of someone from COVID-19, or you’ve lost a loved one during this time and can’t say goodbye, I’d be honoured to hold space for you on a private video call. You can contact me directly to learn more about how Grief Coaching can help heal your heart.

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